Muscat: A casual weekend for Saif Abdul Latif ended up in a surprise of sorts rescuing a stranded turtle amidst a heap of plastic waste.
Saif had decided to go on a fishing expedition with Hilal al Batashi, his friend, off the Muscat coast, on Saturday.
He noticed something floating over the water which was slowly moving towards their boat after cruising almost 100km from the Marina Bandar Al Rowdha to the deep sea.
They had ventured into the sea hoping to spot some yellowfin tuna, considered as a prized catch.
Saif said they generally spot a school of fish under such floating objects. To his surprise, when they reached close to the object, they realized it was a turtle, slowly swimming towards their boat, hoping to grab their attention.
“I was so surprised and excited to see the giant turtle swimming towards us. Though sea turtles are common towards the deep sea, they don’t generally come close to boats. When we brought our boat closer, we realized the turtle was tangled in plastic waste and was not able to swim properly. I felt like it was seeking help and decided to intervene,” said Saif.
With the help of Hilal, Saif managed to get the turtle onto the boat. The turtle’s head and legs were tangled in a thick plastic sack and was not able to swim freely.
The turtle’s head and legs were tangled in a thick plastic sack and was not able to swim freely.
“The turtle seemed exhausted. It must have been in this position, stuck for weeks on end without food. It took almost 45 minutes to patiently untangle the plastic sack without hurting the turtle. When we finally released her back to the sea, the turtle stayed close to the boat a little more while before disappearing back to the depths of the sea,” Saif added.
Hilal al Batashi said the turtle was lucky because they spotted it and saved it on time.
“While cruising across the sea, we see many dead turtles and dolphins stranded in plastic. Whenever we venture into the sea, we try our best to clean up the plastic waste. We urge everyone to stop dumping plastic into the ocean. Even a small mask is enough to kill a turtle,” he added.
Sea turtles are witnesses and victims of the high level of plastic pollution in the sea. Oman’s seas are home to five of the seven species of turtles found in the world, four of which nest on the shores of the Sultanate.
The Green Turtle, Loggerhead Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle, and the Olive Turtle are commonly seen in Oman while the Leatherback Turtle visits the Sultanate’s beaches for searching food only.